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Stem Cell Therapy For Treating Canine Osteoarthritis
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The X-ray on the left shows steoarthritis of both hips characterized by flattening of the socket, thickening of the neck of the femur and excess bone remodeling in the joint. The X-ray on the right shows a normal hip.
The X-ray on the left shows steoarthritis of both hips characterized by flattening of the socket, thickening of the neck of the femur and excess bone remodeling in the joint. The X-ray on the right shows a normal hip.

Franklin warns that more research is needed to support the results of stem cell therapy. “There is no evidence that [stem cell therapy] is any more beneficial than other treatments that are less invasive and less expensive.” Among these treatments are injections of hyaluronic acid, steroids or PRP. And, says Voynick, “Stem cell therapy should not be used in patients with infections or cancer. Stem cells target inflammation and can exacerbate disease in these cases.”

The process itself is relatively straightforward. Stem cells are either embryonic or somatic (adult), the latter of which can be retrieved from bone marrow or adipose tissue (fat). Due to the ease of collection, fat is usually the source of stem cells for use in companion animals. Fat-derived stem cells do not need to be cultured and can, therefore, be sent for processing and returned in as little as 48 hours.

Harvesting the fat is much less invasive than a spay. It is commonly taken from the shoulder, lumbar region or falciform ligament (a fatty ligament attaching the liver to the body wall). The 20-minute surgery is performed under general anesthesia and the fat is then sent to a laboratory, where it yields a product called stromal vascular fraction (SVF).

Once the SVF is in hand, the veterinarian will sedate the dog and inject SVF into the affected joint(s); it may also be injected into the bloodstream intravenously. Any remaining SVF is usually stored for future treatments. Although as with any surgery, there is risk when undergoing anesthesia to harvest the fat tissue, stem cell therapy is generally very safe. And, since SVF is derived from the dog’s own cells, the rate of immune reactions is extremely low.

Treatment with stem cell therapy isn’t easy on the wallet, however. Surgery, processing and the initial injection can range between $2,000 and $3,000, close to the cost of some surgical treatments. There are also no guarantees, and surgery may still be required if stem cell therapy fails. As Franklin, who recommends a case-by-case assessment on the value of stem cell therapy to an individual dog, notes, “It’s all about pros and cons—[deciding] what will be best for the patient.”

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This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 78: Summer 2014

Megan Cassels-Conway, DVM currently practices at the Elk County Veterinary Clinic in north-central Pennsylvania. Her interests lie in preventive medicine, surgery and client education.

elkcountyvet.com

Photograph by Rhyman

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Submitted by Gomarreal | June 27 2014 |

Does anyone know who does stem cell therapy, near palm,springs CA thank you

Submitted by Kat Rheinbold | June 30 2014 |

Stem cell therapy is still in the clinical trial phase of FDA approval, even for animals. Our company is currently recruiting for pilot studies for stem cell therapy, so a good option is to ask your vet to apply to our partner program on our website, http://actcells.com. If you'd like, you can also see what we've accomplished on our YouTube channel: http://bit.ly/actvideos

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